tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 20, 2012 2:00am-3:00am EDT
a battle of light weights? the land of lincoln, let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews, tonight, can rick santorum really win this thing? we'll have to start be taking illinois's primary. romney easter if ied of another loss, and he spent the day calling santorum an economic light weight. santorum says picking romney is like picking -- also, what do romney and santorum think the u.s. should do or country should do in afghanistan? should we stay or go? it's hard to tell. romney said he is not ready to take a stand.
it's ease to to criticize obama from the cheap seats. why do republicans blame obama for high gas prices? because they can. and even though republican claims are misleading or dishonest, the obama camp is very worried about gas prices and the potential political fallout this november. it was two years ago this week that president obama signed his law for health care. tonight, we'll look at how the president fought back against people in congress putting one thing above everything else, so see president obama fail. finally, what can brown do for you? not much if you're rick santorum, talking about scott brown and his dirty joke about santorum and his view on contraception. we have a panel with us tonight.
let's look at the latest ppp poll showing that people in illinois favor romney 45% to santorum's 30%. let's take a look right now at what santorum said on cbs this morning. >> what i'm going to do is continue to work hard to make sure there is a conservative who is the nominee of this party. we cannot win this election when we nominate moderates, we don't win elections. >> let's go to john heilemann, people get bitter and petty, there you have one candidate calling him tweddle dumb. >> it does, i have seen these candidates over the last few days on tv and they look tired.
things are tired to evolve in the way you're talking about. but santorum, the name calling is that he is trying to make a point. he says they're like match set, they're twins, and the point is an ideological point. and he's trying to say that the problem with romney is that he is too close to the president on some issues, and the party would do better with starker and clear i contracts and santorum believes he would be that candidate. more conservative than romney and able to draw differences on key issues like health care and several others. >> this morning in springfield, illinois, romney continues his lightweight theme tagging the president and romney --
>> i'm not an economic lightweight, president obama is, we cannot replace one light yn weight with another. >> mark halperin, it seems like someone you consider a colleague, calling him a lightweight, is this a new -- you're frowning at my theory here, but what do you think of this? doesn't it surprise you? >> no, it happens in campaigns. neither of these guys is setting the world on fire. neither of them has a coordinated attack that i think is breaking through on their own message. and as john said before, i think they're both pretty tired. mitt romney was supposed to take a little time off and he didn't to help make sure he wins
illinois. santorum has to knock romney out, he can't beat him in delegates. so there are no debates, he doesn't have much tv on the air compared to romney. he has resorted to trying to breakthrough by using hyperbolic language, and it's not unprecedented. >> i love the boxing terms, but here is rick santorum defending himself yesterday in rockford, illinois, let's listen to his defense against the lightweight charge. >> i heard that romney called me than economic lightweight because i was not a wall street financier like he was. you really believe this country
wants to elect a wall street financer. you think that's the experience we need in someone that will take and look after as he did his friends on wall street and bail them out at the expense of main street america. >> maybe everyone here is getting punchy here, but he also said just recently this afternoon, just a few minutes ago, that the unemployment rate doesn't matter in his campaign. he's not watching it very closely. but everyone knows it will probably end up about the unemployment rate, why would he say such a thing. >> it is interesting to mark's point, neither candidate has a positive message at this point. you heard romney in your earlier bite after santorum says romney is too much like obama on a lot of issues, he is too liberal. you have romney returning to his experience message.
he is say lg i know something about the private economy and santorum is too much like obama and he doesn't understand how the economy works. now you have santorum replying to that and echoing democrat talking points you will hear all fall if romney is the nominee. neither side has a positive message about themselves. they can just knock each other. or attack each other on ideological terms or on experience terms, but it's all about this guy is worse than me, not i have a positive forward leaning message that the party should rally around. >> as i said just in the last hour, campaigning in illinois, santorum said he doesn't care what the unemployment rate will be. let's watch. >> i don't care what unemployment rate will be, my campaign doesn't hinge on unemployment rates.
there's something more foundational going on here. we have one nominee that wants to run the economy. we conservatives think that government doesn't create jobs. they create an atmosphere for jobs to be created in the private sector. >> mark, it's so interesting, and i wish we had somebody translating these guys, but somewhere in this, is this a populist argument. if you take all of the republican party members in this country verses all of the democrat, they have something of an economic advantage. a significant one, they're better off economically, but they're not all in the 1%. two-thirds are not above $100,000 a year. is there some kind of populist anger he can grab and use against romney? >> there are two messages, and
they're not in contradiction, but they're both difficult to make and certainly at the same time. one is the populist argument, that we need a president that understands the real lives of working people better than romney does. the other message which is what i think he means, is a message about morality, and rick santorum has sort of taken on himself and made himself the vessel of all of the -- that he is not about balance sheets. he is not about trying to beat the president because the president is immoral from a conservative point of view. he is trying to drive authentic conservative and economic populism. they're both complicated to pitch to the audience in illinois, and rick santorum and his campaign with limited resources, and as good as
santorum is at times, and an inconsistent performance, i don't think he is breaking through with either of them, and they both represent vulnerabilities that no one has been able to breakthrough so far. so far it's not good enough to overtake mitt romney. >> the people voting perhaps tomorrow, perhaps the majority tomorrow in illinois and elsewhere for romney, are they challenging those premises? are they saying he is authentic and really a conservative? do they challenge the premises of rick santorum, or do they say we need a winner and this guy looks like a better bet? >> i don't think they challenge the premise at all. i think most of mitt romney's vote which is northern illinois, they're basically moderate, number one they're behind him
because they think he has the best chance to beat barack obama in the fall, but they suspect romney is not a real conservative. they don't want a rick santorum conservative because they are not themselves a rick santorum conservative. the presentation around romney saying he is a little phoney and that's okay with us. they like that. >> but they don't mind the deceit in his campaign? >> i think they are sophisticated enough and a lot of voters that say it's all right that he is laning to the right, but he will come back to where i am which is closer to the center. >> thank you mark halperin. we will break down that president obama is personally and politically to blame that you're looking at those kind of numbers at the gas pump. you're watching "hardball" only
mitt romney won all 20 of puerto rico's delegates last night. they carried 80% of the those there adding to a string of victories in island territories. romney has won them all. he is great off shore. we'll be right back. right theru why you fell in love with her in the first place. and why you still feel the same. but your erectile dysfunction -- that could be a question of blood flow. cialis for daily use helps you be ready anytime the moment's right. you can be more confident in your ability to be ready. and the same cialis is the only daily ed tablet approved to treat ed and symptoms of bph, like needing to go frequently or urgently. tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain,
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welcome back to "hardball," mitt romney has been focussing on the rising gas prices and placing the blame on the shoulders of the president. he said the president wanted to see higher gas prices, let's watch. >> one promise he kept. when he campaigned, he said he wanted to raise the price of gasoline. he said under him energy costs would skyrocket.
>> he seems to be referring to comments he mad in 2008 as a candidate. he said that his cap and trade policy would calls electricity rates to skyrocket. the president did say that, but unlike what romney implied, he says the president was not talking as he claimed, about gas prices. it's one of the myths they engage in when talking about gas prices. like the idea that any president could get gas prices down to $2.50 right now like newt gingrich promised, or if they would drill prices could decrease. so what is the case. we have jo ann emerson, and congressman markey. everything tells us that our gasoline prices are a result of
global oil prices. that they go up and down with germany and france's because we're all buying oil from the same world market. if that's the case, how can drilling here at home or doing anything here at home change the price at the pump. >> you're right on the mark. this is not about obama, it's about opec. the price of oil is set by a cartel that determines how much oil is available on the marketplace on a ongoing basis. the price keeps going up. we're at an eight-year high in oil production in the united states. we're at a 39 year high in natural gas production in the united states. we're at a 12-year low for how much oil we import into the
united states. when george bush left office we imported 57%, and this year we're only importing 45 of our oil. so this understanding of how the global emergency markets work, that is how opec picks the price. it's something that romney just doesn't understand and he is holding himself out as a macro economic maestro, but the fact is it is something he does not understand at all. >> congresswoman, i want you -- and congressman markey, we have this chart on the screen now, it's evidence that oil is a global product and prices are set based on factors outside of the united states. the price of gas in the u.s. here at home runs almost exactly in sync with prices in germany. the only reason their paying
more for gas is they tax more, congresswoman. you see the blue line compared to the red line. it's moving like a heart meter or something. exactly in sync. how can they say they can change the price of gas at home? >> i think it is moving with the world market price, but i believe if we were allowing more permits for oil drilling here to increase the supply as opposed to the demand, that we could perhaps bring some downward pressure on the world price. obviously, too, we know that events in the middle east are impacting negatively the price of oil so it keeps going up. this is a real hardship for folks in my very rural district. last week when i was home, i have my receipts, gas prices went up 35 cents from the 9th of march to the 14th of march.
and that's problematic because when you're in a agriculture district like i am and folks drive to and from work every day. it makes a difference if they can put food on the table. it's tough. >> i understand the challenge and the politics, and it's true in every election, let's look, we're producing more oil than we ever have in the past. in 2005 we produced 8.3 million barrels a day. we're up to 10 million. we're down to 45% of imported oil. 60% -- we're taking away three-fifths. >> but chris, what you haven't said is that we're only producing here in the united states half of what we produced in the 1980s. if you go back and look historically, we are only producing half.
>> is that right, congressman markey? >> we got that information from the economic energy institute, so i think that is correct, and everything that we have red backs up that we were producing twice as much in the 1980s. >> that's completely inaccurate, we produced 10 million barrels a day last year, and we imported approximately 8 million. >> i didn't say -- >> we're very near our all-time high for production? the united states. if we produce twice 10 million a day, that would be 20 million barrels a day. that would be 100% of our consumption and that was not true in the 80s, 90s, or today. >> it is a problem, and i think it's absolutely critical that we try to exploit more resources
here in the united states and -- >> i know -- i think it sounds intuitively correct what you say congresswoman, but the more we look at the charts and the facts, it shows that we have a global price for oil and we suffer from the fact. if the united states went to anwar and pennsylvania, and discovered oil. if we did it all, all of that gasoline and oil would go in the world market and the chinese would start bidding against it for us. we don't lower our price, we slightly oil the world price. by a few cents lower the world price. >> but if you increase supply, and if world events are not impacting price in addition to the speculators out there who obviously are betting on the fact that there will be a lot of problems in the middle east, and that means their speculating up
the price. it's to our advantage to become more independent even in the north american continent. >> but that doesn't lower the price at the pump? >> it makes it easier for us to pay for in the united states as opposed to anywhere else. >> let me ask you about newt gingrich, you used to serve with him. what does it mean for a candidate to say point-blank i can give you $2.50 a gallon gas. >> for that candidate, newt gingrich, i would say he is breaking a record for political hyperbole that will never be matched. in 1995, as soon as he took over as speaker, and for every year there after, he actually added an amendment to the transportation bill prohibiting the increase in the fuel economy standards of the vehicles which we drive in the united states. and then all the way through the
12 years the republicans controlled the house and the senate, they just kept that prohibition in place. and we put 70% of the gasoline that we consume into oil tanks. so we went back wards year after year in terms of fuel efficiency. obama has increased the fuel efficiency of the vehicles we will drive up to 54.5 miles per hour. if you want to keep them sleepless at night over there, tell them we're going to double the fuel efficiency. the republicans disagreed with it. by the way, in the ryan budget, the sacred ryan budget, they slashed wind and solar down to zero in the budget last year as pell. so in terms of the future, the republicans keep looking at it in a rearview mirror back towards the oil industry as if that's our future. >> you're not even talking about a transition.
first of all, i think it's unrealistic to talk about having a green -- totally green future here particularly if we have resources available and we can still cleanly develop those resources much like you would like to do. but the fact is, is that it's unrealistic to expect that we're going to have green energy totally in this country in the next five or ten years. and so, i mean, it's a wonderful idea to have, but let's be realistic and let's discuss what it's going to do, what we do to help people pay for the cost of food, medicine, and the energy and gasoline it cost them to get to and from work and producing crops in agriculture. we produce the safest most abundant food for the world. so the higher the cost the more
difficult it is for producers to give us food. >> you're pointing directly at the political problem that everybody in office faces today, rising gasoline prices. the tricky question is in a world market situation what can we do about it. >> congressman markey, that's all i got. >> the keystone pipeline coming down from atlanta, my amendment said that it should say in the united states and almost every republican voited not to keep it in the united states. if we're going to take that risk, the oil should stay here and send a message to iran, and almost every republican voted against it. >> we have the keystone pipeline as is it, and the president's approach says we're not going to have a keysan antonio pipeline --
>> what's the point of building it if you're not going to keep the oil here. keep it here, don't vote against that. >> i don't disagree with that notion. >> you're in agreement. the republicans -- thank you congresswoman emerson and congressman marquis, up next, senator scott brown's joke about santorum. you decide if it's dirty or not, only on "hardball" on msnbc.
tonight's side show, seamus strikes again and he has hit the big time. rick santorum was asked to weigh in romney's decision to have have seamus the dog ride out a road trip on the roof of the car. was he willing to cut romney slack on this? >> as far as seamus the dog, look, all i would say is the issues of character are important in this election, and we need to look at all of those issues and make a determination if that's the kind of person you want to be president of the united states. >> oh, the character issue, sounds like rick wants seamus to be famous. bet team obama will too. nest, so much for keeping it clean, senator brown spoke at an event this weekend decked out for the holiday. and on the topic of contraception, no less. what do you make of this? >> i see that both newt gingrich and rick santorum have secret service with them on the
campaign trail, and in santorum's case, i think it's the first time he's used protection. >> it sounds like mr. brown may have gotten help on that one. >> has of tomorrow, rick santorum will be assigned secret service agents. it's historic. it's the first time santorum has agreed to use any kind of protection. >> that was back on february 27th as you saw the timeline there. perhaps senator brown should have left that to the late night crowd back in february, perhaps. what do romney and santorum think we should do about afghanistan. serious question, it's hard to tell based on the things they've been saying. but for candidates running, it's easy to take cheap shots when they talk about war and death and life and peace. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc.
an example of failed leadership. the president put out a specific time table for withdrawal of the troops, a time table for the end of combat. >> the leading republican candidates have criticism for the handling of the war in afghan, but if you ask for their plans they have nothing. in a moment we'll get to some nonanswers, but they have a potent position to hold against obama, how will the engagement in afghan affect the presidential race. . we have chris cillizza, both people are msnbc political analysts. fox news tried to get a concrete answer from mitt romney on afghanistan. let's listen. >> president obama as you know has publicly said to stay the course until a withdrawal at the
end of 2014. would president romney do anything different, and if so how? >> first of all, i would exercise leadership, and by that i mean i would work with president karzai, i would speak with him regularly. >> would you accelerate the withdrawal? >> the timing of withdrawal will be dependent upon what you hear from the conditions on the ground. that you understand by speaking with commanders there. >> are you taking a stand while much of your party is souring on afghanistan? >> before i take a stand on a particular course of action, i want to get the input from the people who were there. >> so that's leadership? that's what he saw? that's what that guy calls leadership? pay attention to that up with. this week, jonathan carl try today lock down santorum on what would he do. >> what does president santorum do?
do you commit to winning and what does that take, or do you say it's time to get out? >> i think if you commit to winning you change the entire dynamic in the region with respect to the taliban and you say we're going to stay there and finish the job. >> this morning andrea mitchell tried to get an answer from santorum, let's see how she did. >> would you accelerate the withdrawal then? >> again, you know my feeling is that we should commit ourselves to be successful. but if the president is not going to commit himself, i don't see any reason for us to continue to be there. >> you know, gene, i want -- here is an opportunity for you to show your brains. they don't know what they're talking about after the horror of the last weekend of the killing of the 16 afghans by the man who is apparently deranged because he is on his fourth tour, it seems republicans don't
have much to say here. >> it translates as we have no idea. santorum sounds like he wants to say let's double down on afghanistan, stay in there and finish the job, but he doesn't come out and say he wants to stay in afghanistan because he knows that's terribly unpopular. romney tries to have it both ways by saying i would do it differently, but he doesn't say he would do a different thing, there is nothing substantive that i can hear. >> chris, it's just like the people that chickened out about the vietnam war, they would not say they're forit or against it. they say if we are going to be in there we have to win it. here is what the president says he wants to get done in afghanistan. >> dismantle al qaeda, i guess we have done that, break the
taliban's momentum, and take the lead to troops can come home. these are relative discussions. the president says we can get that done over the next two years. what are the republicans saying they want to do and every what time table? >> i think gene is right, there is no plan, certainly not one that i'm aware of by romney or santorum. i think it is tied up, chris, with the fact of the politics of this. the politics of it are not particularly good. the "washington post"said more than half of people said we should get troops out of there regardless if the afghan troops are ready to take over. there are large numbers saying they don't know what ultimate goal is or if the war is worth fighting. president obama is trying to walk a very fine line between what he views as responsible policy and political reality in
this thing. when you're a candidate for president, you don't have to walk as fine of a line because the truth of the matter is mitt romney and rick santorum are not the president and they can say and do or not say and do whatever they like because they don't have the responsibility. >> they won't take responsibility for anything, and a gallup poll saying the u.s. servicemen allegationly -- 50% say they should speed up withdrawal, 27% said it made them think troops should withdrawal sooner. so people are not able to admit how much they want us to get out, but it gets down to the question of winning. and when you throw that word out it puts it in perspective. what do you think santorum means by winning? >> i don't think santorum knows what he means by winning.
is it to wipe out the taliban or destroy the possibility of the taliban? because the fact is the people we call the taliban is a group of afghans who live there. who are going to live there no matter when we pull out. so this question of whether we say we're going to pull out in two years or ten years, guess what? they're still going to be there. >> so he basically is offering -- >> so basically he's suggesting, although i don't mean he means to do it, the only way to get around aachievement of victory is to move them out, fight them all and shoot them all. how do you remove what is clearly a potential civil war with people who don't agree with each other? >> in some ways, this is still both politicians and american public trying to come to terms with what modern war iraq and
afghanistan and beyond means. i think you hit at the heart of it. what is winning? how do we define winning? when can we leave and say we did what we set out to do. president obama is clearly laying those things out as you mentioned. but i would say look the reason the republican candidates are not is because they don't have to. and picking any three things that says this means winning means that 55 to 60% of the american public agrees with you. >> this is not between the hard hats and the long hairs going on in vietnam. it is not the cultural difference. nobody is happy with this war. thank you chris cillizza and eugene robinson. it was two years ago that president obama signed the
health care reform law into law. tonight, how the president fought back against republicans in congress. from day one, he was trying to get this guy out of office for president. and let's give a call out to michael smerconish. he has a book coming out, and he features me in an interview in the book. we're now in theaters in your neighborhood. check it out, michael smerconish's book club. ♪ [ female announcer ] introducing new nature valley protein bars. 100% natural ingredients like roasted peanuts... ♪ ...creamy peanut butter, and a rich dark chocolate flavor. plus, 10 grams of great tasting protein in every bar. so it's energy straight from nature to you.
republicans across the country propose legislation restricting access to abortion and birth control and now in tennessee, a new bill in the state's house of representatives would require the state to publish the name of every doctor who performs an abortion. and detailed statistics about the women that have them. they say it would allow the people on both sides of the debate -- it is a dangerous bill that could butt doctors at risk and woman identified as having abortions. i don't think it's a good idea. we'll be right back.
we're back. this week marks the two week anniversary of president obama signing into the affordable care act. they're aim is to make him a one-term president. we all though that msnbc political analyst david corn has offered up a brand flu book, "showdown" which battles president obama's battles by the tale party. you're carrying the burden of explaining how the president reacted to the horror when the 200 tea party type showed up in congress to stop any chance he had of progressing forward. >> the book picks up with a midterm election, and shows what he did in the lame duck session and the strategy he adopted with the help of his aids in 2011 to
try to get back the moral high ground. there's a lot of inside the white house strategizing. it started with the jobs bill last september. >> i'm all for that. personally, i think that's a great approach. this this campaign is going to be a lot about the 1%. let's take a look at this new abc washington post poll about the health care laws as it faces the supreme court. it's out today this poll. it's informative and a bit scary. 42% would like to see the supreme court throw out the health care law entirely. another quarter would like the mandate to be thrown out. that's the mandate that requires us to participate. another quarter would like to see the law upheld by the court.
that's pretty bad news for the president. maybe it flips. maybe if the supreme court, which is a republican court, certainly the court that put george bush into the white house, if they look like they are part son, throw out the big thing he did, would this be like roosevelt in the '30s where they say these guys are screwing up what we elected. >> no one knows how the court will handle this. sticking with precedent. the interesting thing, which i found in talking to people involving the obama campaign for the book is that they really believe that they can win a head to head fight when it comes to presenting the benefits of the health care law. do you want mitt romney, if you're the nominee to take away the and take kids off insurance plans of their parents. do you want to go back to letting companies throwout ou for preexisting conditions. they realize and they told me
this time and time again when i was doing interviews that they realized they screwed up on the messaging about health care. they were so involved in the process and -- >> it won't matter if the court throws it out. they have to win the battle in the court first? >> yes and no. the court can do a lot of things. this focuses on the individual mandate. the court can come up with a lot of different types of split decisions that will make it the muddy, murky outcome. there will still be plenty of argument between obama and his showdown against mitt romney. the court can come up with a lot of different types of split decisions that will make it the muddy, murky outcome. there will still be plenty of argument between obama and his showdown against mitt romney. >> best of luck. you're one of our great partners and one of my pals. showdown by dave corn. great look at politics. let me fin wish the republican death march when i get back. you're watching "hardball.
♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] your glass of tap water can go farther than you think. just $1 for tap water can help unicef provide clean, safe water for 40 kids in need. ♪ let me finish with this. i've never witnessed the death march now proceeding on the republican party. it's become downright spectral. why are the republicans moving toward the nomination of someone who elicits emotions of ranging zero from the nerve center of requiring serious anger management.
the only people excited about mitt romney being the nominee are those ticked off at the process the do those banking the romney campaign want him in the wlous with a shred of the motive they possess for getting barack obama out of it? of course not. the one shared observation of those watching this campaign with any degree of interest is that it runs against not with the national inclination. americans want to take another bet on obama or they deeply wish the opposite. where's romney in all of this? if he truly does have a serious historic problem with the president, it's hard to see where. he created the model for the obama health care plan. he's a fiscal moderate and a soishl moderate as well. in boston the only time in office he was an old style new england plod rat. you can hardly calm a man of the right. he was barely a man of the center right.
now he is clawing his way to move something that's not true. everyone on the planet can see it. what stands in his way? it's not clear. rick santorum is running a gutsy campaign based on the fact he's not mitt romney as is newt gingrich. these two fellas seem to be offering less as his rivals than his pal bearers. whom do they offer as the alternatives. rick santorum speaks of the dire need for republicans to run a conservative. who? maybe not him. newt gingrich can't be seriously offering himself not anymore as the actual candidate. he's not insane. the death march continues through illinois tomorrow night and on to the rest of the country increasingly sure of only one thing. it doesn't want the republicans or want the republicans or offering. perhaps history will tell us why. that's hardball for now.